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History and Adventure in San Antonio, Texas

March 01, 2006

Hello again. With a stop for lunch and gas, it took us about 7 hours to get from Galveston to Lakehills, just north of San Antonio, TX. We're staying at the Thousand Trails Medina Lake campgrounds. While I setup the campsite, Adam and Lucas quickly went over to the playground before dinner.

The following day, Saturday, we drove into downtown San Antonio. This year, 2006, marks the 150th anniversary of the Alamo siege and they were having a celebration. There was some rain in the morning, so the days activities were a little delayed. We arrived about 11:30 am and walked through the historic Alamo grounds. After teaching a little history to the boys, and giving myself a refresher course, we headed down the street for a parade.

We grabbed a quick bite of lunch from one of the street venders while we waited. Soon thereafter, the parade began. And just that quick it was over. It kind of reminded me of a Mayberry parade from the old TV show. Leading the parade was a police car. Following it was the community marching band made up of what looked like about 50 retired men and woman. Then there was a single filed line of about 10 adults pulling small kids in wagons all dressed in Mardi Gra customs. And that was it for the parade.

OK, back to the Alamo...

In front of the Alamo site, they were getting ready for some sort of re-enactment. Due to the mornings rain, they were still setting up the sound equipment. After about 30 more minutes they finally got underway.

They started off with the firing of the cannon. Then volunteers who were dressed as Texan and Mexican soldiers, as well as the settlers marched in to introduce themselves. Then they exited. OK, now what. There was about a 10 minute pause without really anything going on, at least nothing was being said. After that they began talking about the cannon, explaining the size cannon balls, etc. They also began speaking about the different weapons of that time period.

It was a little interesting, but standing among a large crowd in the sun wasn't exactly fun. At that point the boys were not paying attention either. So we left.

We walked a few blocks down to the riverwalk area. The San Antonio Riverwalk is below the street level. There are lots of shops and restaurants lining the way and the landscaping is beautiful. We walked around for a short while until we came upon the tour boat rides. What better way to see the Riverwalk than by boat, right?

This turned out to be a good idea because not only were we able to enjoy the scenery, but the guide pointed out some items of interest and history that we would otherwise have missed.

The only negative we experienced on the Riverwalk was all the trash in the water. Our guide told us that normally the water is clear. But when it rains, as it did the previous night and early morning, the rain washes down most of the trash from the streets. So this was the reason for the cups and stuff floating on top the water you may notice in some of the photos.

On Sunday we drove up I-35 north to Wonder World. Wonder World's main attraction is a cavern which was created by an earthquake. This one was different from the previous caverns we've visited that were created by underground springs. Anyway, this one was discovered back in the late 1800's when the property owner was trying to drill a well. In a short while, his drill just plummeted through the ground. Further exploration with his buddies discovered an underground room. The property changed ownership a couple of times and the cavern was explored further.

Fast forwarding to today, we were guided down into the cavern and shown how the earth was separated by the quake. You could see how the wall fit together with the opposite wall like a puzzle. What held them apart was the large wedge shaped boulders at the top. We walked all the way down to the lowest point which was 158 feet below the surface. While you are down there it is hard to grasp how far down you actually are. But at the end of the trip down, they have installed an elevator to bring you back up. Now the really neat thing is that you don't just go back up to the surface, but all the way up to 160 feet ABOVE the surface. They have erected this observation tower to look out over the fault line.

After the viewing the area from 160 feet, our guide took us back down to surface level. From there we went to the "anti-gravity" room. It was a room similar to the one we went to in West Virginia that had been tilted enough so everything is off balance. When we stood straight up in the room, it looked as though we were leaning. Both water and balls appeared to go uphill. It took a while for our brains to adjust as we walked around.

Then the last attraction they had was a miniature train ride that took us across the street to the feeding zoo. It was a short ride which I think Lucas enjoyed the most. He always likes feeding the animals. Even all the deer back at the campgrounds.

By the time we finished Wonder World, it was about 2:30-3:00pm. And it was only about another 30 minutes up the the capital so we continued north on I-35. We arrived in Austin, TX to some unusual traffic. For a Sunday afternoon it was bumper to bumper.

We easily found the capital building, it stood out from a distance. The landscaping was also very nice. Another unusual thing was that the capital building was also very busy for a Sunday. The really odd thing was there must have been at least 4 brides there. We don't know if they had gotten married or what. Both they and the grooms were walking the grounds and inside the capital with photographers. There were also a lot of other visitors at the capital as well. Anyhow, we rank Austin Texas as one of the top 5 capitals.

On Monday, we stayed at the campgrounds. It was such a beautiful day we decided to take our inflatable boat our on the lake. It has been a while since we've used these, the boys were a little smaller back then. They were the two person sized boats and the two don't fit anymore. So I drove to Wal-Mart to get another. This time I bought a four person boat, although I don't know how you could get more than three in this thing. Anyway, Lucas and I were in the new larger one. Cricket and Adam each paddled one of the old ones. Although this was Adam's first time rowing his own boat so he was still tied to mine by a ten foot rope. That turned out to be a smart thing as you'll see in a moment.

After inflating all the boats, we packed some water and a snack in a backpack and carried them down to the lake. So far, everything's good and we're looking to have fun rowing across to the other side. We all climbed in and started rowing. I knew it would be tough starting across because it was a little windy and we were heading into the wind. OK, that just meant getting back would be easy right? WRONG! The wind was not a direct headwind but a little bit of a crosswind. Cricket seemed to be managing ok by herself, but pulling Adam made it difficult for me. By the time we reached the middle, the waves were at least a foot or more, and I had had enough. I called out to Cricket who was probably 40-50 yards ahead and told her that I was heading back.

Yes, we were reaching the other side, but we were also being blown down the lake. We both reached the shore at the same time. Cricket was about 50 yards down, while the boys and I were about 200 yards down. As soon as I got to shore, I completely pulled the boats out of the water and set the oars inside along with the rest of the gear. Then I turned to look back at Cricket's progress only to see her boat floating out into the water with her on the beach. The wind was even flipping it over every now and then and I could also see the oars were still attached. It was funny. And when we finally met up with her, she told us her shoes were also in the boat when it got away. It made for an amusing day. We have learned NOT to go rowing on a windy day!

Yesterday we decided to just go for a drive and explore the area. We drove around Medina Lake to get some other views besides those at the campgrounds. The we drove up Texas Highway 16 north. Our map showed it to be a scenic route. We've never been this far west, so it was all new scenery for us. Jake was anxious to get outside and run around, but most everything was fenced off. Eventually we came across the Picnic Area along a small creek so we pulled over. It was still close to the road and we were worried Jake might run out into traffic. So we kept the leash on him until we walked down to the creek. At the shoreline, it was about a 1-2 foot drop and he wasn't ready to just jump in so he started walking along the shore.

Going back under the bridge he turned and wandered up into the brush. A few minutes later we heard cows mooing! OH NO!, We called to no avail. There was a barbed wire fence that ran all the way down to the water and we could not get across. Occasionally we could see him running and kind of herding about 8-10 cows around. He was barking and running around. The cows were mooing and running away. We just felt helpless. They all eventually ran up over the hill out of site and we could no longer hear them.

I went back up to the road and looked across but still could not see or hear them. There was an entry gate nearby but it was locked. About all we could do was wait.

It was 15 minutes later before he finally showed back up. Exhausted, limping, and really having a hard time just walking. He just sat down in the creek and probably drank a couple of gallons of water! We didn't know if he was pooped or if the cows got revenge on him. After that ordeal, we just headed back home.

Well today we were supposed to move on to our next stop but our mail did not arrive. The local post office was closed due to Ash Wednesday. So we'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Today we ended up just driving around again. We read online that Fredericksburg was supposed to be a nice town and it was also north on Route 16. On the way there, we found a veterinarian and had Jake checked out. No broken bones or anything, just a sprained leg and exhaustion.

We made it up to Fredericksburg and drove around town looking at the old buildings. I wished we would have had more time, but Cricket wasn't feeling too well and it was hot outside. Didn't that groundhog say six more weeks of winter? What does he know. It reached 89 degrees here! Anyhow, it was a nice drive.

Hopefully the mail will arrive tomorrow and we can move on. I'll be back in a few days with another update.

See you soon,